MLB: Randy Johnson wins No. 299, will go for 300th win on the road
By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
SAN FRANCISCO ó Randy Johnson didnít have to strike out Chipper Jones three times to make his 299th career win a satisfying experience.
But it sure did help.
Even at 45, Johnson isnít too old to settle scores. Jones entered with six home runs against the Big Unit ó more than any player, active or retired ó yet the switch hitter failed to put a ball into play as Johnson pitched the Giants to a 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night at AT&T Park.
His scowl replaced with calm self-assuredness, Johnson allowed a run in six innings, struck out five and didnít walk a batter while winning for the first time in three starts.
The 6-foot-10 left-hander is on the cusp of becoming the 24th pitcher in major league history to win 300 games. And now, pursuit hits the road. Before the game, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said he didnít intend to use open dates today and Monday to alter the rotation. So Johnsonís next starts would fall June 3 at Washington, then June 8 at Florida.
Barring injury or other unforeseen circumstances to the rotation, Johnsonís next start at AT&T Park wouldnít come until June 13 against the Aís.
His pursuit of No.299 wasnít a brisk ticket seller. The Giants announced a crowd of 27,744, leaving almost 15,000 empty seats at China Basin.
Aaron Rowand doubled twice and stole home for the first time in his career, leading the Giants to their first three-game home sweep over the Braves since 2003.
Brian Wilson flashed some of the power that made Johnson a fearsome presence earlier in his career, hitting 100 mph on the scoreboard radar gun while recording his first save in 10 days.
Johnson entered with a 4.33 ERA against the Braves, the highest vs. any N.L. opponent.
But he had been on a solid streak in recent years, allowing just one run in 22 innings spanning his previous three starts against them ó a run that began memorably on May 18, 2004, when he tossed a perfect game against the Braves for Arizona at Turner Field.
With the exception of Jones, Atlantaís lineup that day bore no resemblance to their starting nine Wednesday. But Jones had been one of Johnsonís sharpest thorns over the years, hitting .394 with six homers in 33 career at-bats.
Jones had plenty of chances to draw blood, but Johnson turned him aside each time. He caught Jones looking at a slider at the knees in the first inning. In the fourth, Jones failed to put a ball in play with a runner at third and one out.
Johnson had to defeat his nemesis one more time in the sixth after Casey Kotchmanís two-out single trimmed the Giantsí lead to 2-1. After pitching coach Dave Righetti visited the mound, ostensibly to give Brandon Medders more time to warm up, Johnson battled Jones to a full count before slipping an 89 mph fastball past his bat.
Jones, who won the N.L. batting title last year with a .364 average, also struck out against Merkin Valdez in the eighth inning. It was the first four-strikeout game of Jonesí career.
From there, Johnsonís decision was up to the Giants bullpen. The offense made things easier, scoring twice in the sixth. Garret Andersonís two-run pinch single in the seventh made it a one-run game again, but the Giants tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Giants gave Johnson a lead in the second inning when Fred Lewis walked, stole second base, advanced on a wild pitch and went home on Juan Uribeís single. They literally stole another run in the third. Rowand doubled and took third on a passed ball, then Edgar Renteria walked to put runners at the corners. The Giants executed a double-steal, and Braves catcher David Ross threw down to second base, then he slipped while handling the return throw home as Rowand slid across the plate.
The Giants had one potential casualty. Randy Winn fouled a ball off his right leg in the fifth inning and Nate Schierholtz replaced him in right field to begin the sixth.